Licorice root has been used in medicinal purposes for thousands of years. It is the root of a flowering perennial that is native to Asia, the Middle East and Europe. The first recorded history that we have of licorice root being used is from Egypt in the 3rd century BC. It is widely used to treat sore throats and to soothe the chest. The plant grows between three to seven feet in height and has an extensive root system. In China, licorice root extract is prescribed almost as much as ginseng which is the number one most prescribed herb. Japanese doctors use licorice root extract to treat hepatitis also. Today modern herbalists use it as an anti-inflammatory and an anti-arthritic. Licorice root extract is able to relieve upset stomachs too.
When they make licorice root extract they pound the root and then boil it until all of the liquid has evaporated. What is left is syrup that is eventually evaporated down further into a brown crystalline powder that is 50 times sweeter than sugar. The powder can be used to flavor the licorice candy that many people love.
Licorice root extract can be used as a cough suppressant as effective as codeine. Licorice root extract is also an expectorant and is useful for lung congestion and bronchitis. It soothes irritated mucous membranes. Licorice produces a mild estrogenic effect and for that reason it is used by homeopathic doctors to treat women who have irregular menstruation and for women who are suffering from symptoms of menopause. Licorice root extract is generally used with other herbs to treat such things as rheumatism, arthritis and it is used in teas as a mild diuretic. Homeopathic doctors have been known to treat people who have Addison’s disease with licorice root extract. It is also included in herbal teas as a laxative. People who have problems with blood sugar levels and benefit from taking licorice root extract because it helps stabilize blood sugar. Licorice root extract can be as powerful as cortisone to relieve allergy symptoms and people like to use it instead because it does not have all the bad side effects that codeine does.
People who have skin infections can use licorice root extract in a poultice or as an emollient to help heal the infection. As a treatment for acne, licorice root extract can provide outstanding results. You can find many products on the market today that has licorice root extract as an ingredient. Ask at your local health food store for the products that treat acne with it.
You can find licorice root extract at you health food store. It can be purchased as a cream, powder, tablets or in liquid form. Licorice root throat lozenges are also available in most grocery stores.
There are some precautions that you should take when using licorice root extract. If you are taking any prescription medications you should get advice from you doctor before you take licorice root extract. People who have high blood pressure should not take this herb because it can raise blood pressure. Licorice root extract side effects include such things as edema and sodium retention and can be harmful if mixed with certain medications. For these reasons most candy today that is labeled as licorice is not made with “real licorice root extract.” Instead, it is made from another herb called anise that has a licorice flavor to it. You should be careful to read labels and avoid “real licorice root” if you are on medications until you speak to your doctor about it. Licorice root extract can also be found in some chewing tobaccos. Also, people who have liver or kidney disease, diabetes, or heart disease should avoid using real licorice root extract. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should also avoid using licorice root extract.